Andre Schuerrle unleashed an unstoppable drive with three minutes left to give Mainz 05 a 1-0 victory that piled on the relegation misery for bottom club Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday.
Germany international Schuerrle earned Mainz their first home win since November against a gutsy Gladbach team who were reduced to 10 men when Mike Hanke was sent off early in the second half.
The result put the home team on 48 points in fifth place in the Bundesliga, firmly on course for a Europa League spot. Gladbach remained stuck on 26, two points off the relegation playoff position with four games remaining.
It started so promisingly for the visitors who seemed buoyed by last week's 5-1 demolition of Cologne.
The talented Marco Reus fired just wide on 21 minutes and Mainz survived another scare before halftime when keeper Christian Wetklo tipped away a curling free kick from Juan Arango.
Mainz, though, seized the initiative when Hanke received his second booking of the game in the 53rd minute and they broke through as Schuerrle shook off three defenders to beat 18-year-old keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from long range.
On Sunday, leaders Borussia Dortmund (66 points) host Freiburg and fourth-placed Bayern Munich (52), desperate to qualify for the Champions League, entertain second-placed Bayer Leverkusen (61).